Cancer is one word that no one wants to hear. It can bring a lot of fear and confusion toward many families who have a member death of cancer. Usually, it is more happen in adults, but that was few cases, cancer has also been diagnosed in children too. Cancer is simply a disease of the cells in which bad cells multiply themselves and grow into tumors and even affect all other body organs. There are many types of cancer, but cancer is a huge issue everywhere in the world today. It is also very technical which mean it is not easy to understand even though there are great advancements in cancer management.
There is still a lot of research going on with cancer to find out more about it. There are millions of people worldwide who are living with cancer or have had cancer. According to estimates, around half of all American men and one third of all American women will develop cancer during their lifetimes. A healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity, healthy diet, maintenance of healthy weight and staying away from tobacco, sun exposure and other known cancer causing substances can help reduce the risk of getting cancers. Some cancers also have effective screening tests.
This helps in detection of common cancers as early as possible. Early treatment often means better chances of recovery and response to anti cancer therapy. Common examples of this are breast cancer and colon cancer screening that saves thousands of lives each year. (Dr Ananya Mandal, MD, 2013)
What is cancer?
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells spread without control and are able attack other tissues of our body. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases.
There are many different types of cancer and are named based on where the tumor is located, or where it first started growing in the body. For example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer. The most common forms of cancer are colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer. The organs in our body are made up of cells. Cells not just appear everywhere in our body but produced by an existing cell duplicating itself and spreading to produce two new cells.
This duplication is called as cell cycle. This cycle is tightly controlled and it only happens if the body needs to replace worn out cells. When these cells continue duplicating when even the body does not need them, the result is a mass or growth, also called a tumor. Illustration of normal cells dividing Illustration of uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells Sources: eSchooltoday,2010 These growths are considered either benign or malignant. Benign tumors rarely are life threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body and normally it can be removed.
However, malignant tumors often attack tissue and organs nearby, spreading the disease. Cancer can be life threatening and the key is in early diagnosis. If cancer is diagnosed early, there is a high chance that the cancer can be completely cured.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is not contagious and isn’t caused by colds or the flu. Each cancer type is different and that means the causes vary. For example, lung cancer may be caused by inhaling tobacco smoke or toxic chemicals. Exposing your skin to intense sunlight can cause melanoma which is skin cancer.
With this in mind, let see some causes of cancer.
- Genetic make up (inheritance) Normally, every person inherits some genes from their parents. If a person inherits an abnormal gene also called as mutation, there is a 10% of possibility that the abnormal gene will stimulate cancer formation if the conditions are right. This situation is known as genetic predisposition. The most common cancer for genetic predisposition is breast cancer genes. Women who carry one of these abnormal genes have a higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who do not.
- Smoking and second hand smoke Secondhand smoke is a known human carcinogen. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. Smoking accounts for 80% of lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the main factor of cancer death in both men and women. It is also one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose.
- Viruses Viruses can help to cause some cancers. But this does not mean that these cancers can be caught like an infection. What happens is that the virus can cause genetic changes in cells that make them more likely to become cancerous. Cancer is a bit complex and nothing is known to cause it. Keeping well, eating healthy, avoiding chemical inhaling, zero smoking, staying away from sexual activity until you are married or old enough to do so, and general person care can minimize risk of cancer.
- The immune systems People who have problems with their immune systems are more likely to get some types of cancer. For example, people with organ transplant, people living with HIV or AIDS or even people with rare medical syndromes which affect their immunity. Lymphomas are caused by viruses. This means that with a low immune system, viruses attacking your cells are able to spread without control and are more likely to develop genetic faults and develop into lymphomas.
- Body weight, diet and physical activity Most of the people in the western countries eat too much red and processed meat and less fresh fruit and vegetables. This eating habit is causing the increasing of risk of cancer.Besides of that, drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of developing some types of cancer.
Common types of cancer
There are more than 20 different types of cancer. As cells make up tissues and tissues make up organs, which means cancer can affect all your body organs like brain, blood, skin, throat, stomach, liver, bone. The most common cancer for men is prostate cancer whiles breast cancer is the most common in women. Below is a list of some common cancers.
- Lung Cancer This forms in tissues of the lung and it usually in the cells lining air passages. Smoking is the cause of most cases. There are two main types which are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common types of cancer. (eSchooltoday, 2010)
- Breast Cancer As I mentioned above, this cancer is the most common case happen in women. It forms in tissues of the breast, affecting the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). (eSchooltoday, 2010)
- Skin Cancer There are two main types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Malignant melanoma means that less common but more serious whiles non-melanoma skin cancer is very common but not so serious. It starts with cells that make the pigment melanin. Since it forms on the skin, patients are usually first to spot the cancers on the skin. (eSchooltoday, 2010)
- Prostate Cancer This type usually happen in men especially older men and it is very common. It develops in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum). (eSchooltoday, 2010)
- Leukemia It is commonly known as cancer of the blood. It starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream. (eSchooltoday, 2010)
Who’s at risk and how to reduce the risk? Most people who develop cancer have no family history of the cancer, whereby their cancer was not inherited. But sometimes the most common cancers such as breast, prostate or colon cancer can run in families. If a close relative such like grandparent, parent or even sibling has been diagnosed with a common form of cancer, we might be at risk. Risk increases if the relative developed the cancer at an early age, in which typically before age 50-55 or if more than one close relative developed the same cancer.
How to reduce the risk of getting cancer? Cancers that are closely linked to certain behaviors are the easiest to prevent. For example, choose not to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol significantly lower the risk of several types of cancer. If a person is still a current smoker, quitting can still greatly reduce the risks of getting cancer.
Besides of that, skin cancer can be prevented by staying in the shade, protecting skin with a hat and shirt when exposed to the sun. Eating habit is also an important part of cancer prevention. Eat a diet that is high in fiber such like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and exercise regularly is a must for everyday. Some cancer prevention is based on systematic screening in order to detect small irregularities or tumors as early as possible even if there are no clear symptoms present. Breast self-examination, mammograms, testicular self-examination, and pap smears are common screening methods for various cancers.
Cancer has become a common disease today. Over 20 different types of cancer have been found in the world today. Cancer killed over thousands of people in the United States alone every year. The news keeps reports of the many different types of ways a human can get cancer. The main factors that caused cancer are inherit, smoking, the immune system, pollution, viruses and eating habit. Smoking is the leading causes among all the main causes of cancer. Since many types of cancer exist, anyone at any age has a risk of getting cancer.
In an effort for people to speed up the process of finding a cure for cancer, people came up with urban legends and myths to preventing or getting rid of cancer. People can help in their own recovery from cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices. If they use tobacco, stop now. If they use alcohol at all, limit how much they drink. Choose most of foods from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains or high-fiber foods and eat less especially animal fat. Even though cancer is a disease today, but having a healthy life style will help people get rid of cancer.